ESPN adds Gruden to MNF team

Published 3:24 am Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday Night Football tried a Cowboy, a comic, a columnist and a Cosell. To fill the latest vacancy in the broadcast booth, ESPN went with a winning formula — a coach, and a Super Bowl champion at that.

Fresh off getting fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jon Gruden was hired to replace Tony Kornheiser this season.

The snarl-for-snarky swap came after Kornheiser cited a fear of flying in his decision to leave after three years. The same fear beset one of the most popular MNF announcers ever, John Madden, who retired from his TV career last month.

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Gruden has spent his entire adult life coaching football, and said this job would give him an ‘‘opportunity to see things from a different angle.’’

‘‘Kind of like it’s halftime of my life,’’ the 45-year-old Gruden said Monday on a conference call. ‘‘Unfortunately, I don’t know many things about other aspects of life.’’

Gruden won the 2003 title with the Bucs, and there’s no telling how long he’ll stay away from the field. Neither he nor Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive vice president of production, would directly answer how long Gruden’s contract lasts, or whether he was free to leave for an NFL post if one is offered.